Washington are you listening? Bipartisan reform framework aims to end business-as-usual in Congress

Today, Issue One and the ReFormers Caucus launched an ambitious policy framework that aims to kickstart a bipartisan conversation in Washington about how to “drain the swamp,” get Congress back to working for the American people and make government more accountable and transparent.

Our framework, titled “Returning Government to the American People,” is the result of months of deliberation with a working group of Republicans and Democrats in our ReFormers Caucus. It highlights bipartisan solutions that both parties on Capitol Hill can support and that we believe are the most worth pursuing in the 115th Congress.

Speaking at the National Press Club this morning, Issue One Executive Director Nick Penniman described the framework as the most robust attempt at bipartisan money-in-politics reform in a decade, saying, “This is the beginning of an effort to break the cynicism in Washington.”

ReFormers Caucus members Rep. Tim Roemer (D-IN), Sec. Ray LaHood (R-IL), Rep. Connie Morella (R-MD), Sec. Dan Glickman (D-KS) and Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN) touted the framework as a roadmap for the next Congress and administration.

“We have a bipartisan group, with bipartisan solutions to drain the swamp and fix our broken political system,” Rep. Roemer said.

And noting that states and cities across the country have already begun passing significant reforms, Rep. Roemer said, “The time has come. The crisis is here. When is Washington going to listen? When is Washington going to do what our people and states and grassroots are already doing?”

“Average citizens have little or no voice, little or no say,” said Sec. LaHood. “Obviously they have the ballot box, but in terms of investing in candidates, investing in people they believe in, their contributions become miniscule compared to the kind of money involved in politics today. For that reason, I’ve signed on to these reforms.”

Sec. Glickman expanded on how our broken campaign finance system encourages gridlock and inaction in Congress. “The safest thing to do when you have this volume of money coming in is to do nothing,” Sec. Glickman said. “It does not reward courage or leadership whatsoever, and that’s really dangerous to the political system.”  

Rep. Wamp noted that the current political climate offers a challenge, as well as a window of opportunity for solutions such as the framework to be put into action.

“Just because there was an election,” said Rep. Wamp, “that does not mean the system has changed. You have to have legislative proposals enacted into law in order for the system to change.”

“With the unprecedented level of money in politics, how can the average citizen feel that they have a voice?” asked Rep. Connie Morella.

“That’s why I am so pleased to see this framework,” Rep. Morella continued. “It’s been put together to show that there are things we can do. There is an action plan. And so we not only have to work with Congress and with the President but we also have to let the people know what can be done, and that there are people working on it.”

We’re excited to launch the framework and to begin the hard work of reaching across the aisle in Congress to enact change. Voters have issued a mandate for change — a mandate to dismantle business-as-usual in Washington. We’re here to do our part to make that happen.